As the winter creeps upon us folks in the Northern hemisphere it got my wee brain thinking, what kind of hats can I make that are stylish and also functional in keeping us warm?
It didn’t take me long to come up with the answer and last week I found myself on a boat, sailing to a lovely little island off the west coast of Scotland, to do a bit of business!
Location Location Location
The Isle of Bute (http://www.isle-of-bute.com/) lies in the Firth of Clyde and is approximately 15 miles long by 5 miles wide. To get there you take a ferry from Wemyss Bay (about 40 minutes from Glasgow) and in 30 minutes you are transformed into a world of calm, packed with charm and so much history.
There is something for everyove here but I particularly enjoyed the architecture, with a variety of styles from the amazing Art Deco Rothesay Pavilion to the Gothic stately home of the Mount-Stuart family, which captured the heart of fashion designer Stella McCartney (http://www.stellamccartney.co.uk/) so much, that she got married there in 2003.
I was on the island to visit Bute Fabrics (http://www.butefabrics.com/). They are a modern company with a traditional heritage, who produce wool and tweed fabric. Although founded more than 50 years ago by the 5th Marquess of Bute, they are now more at home collaborating with leading designers,and providing upholstery fabrics the world over, from the Welsh Millenium Centre to Hong Kong airport.
The company’s design director Catherine Murray kindly showed me around the factory and I got to see the weaving process from start to finish. It was a fantastic experience! I’d recommend it to anyone who’d like to see how fabric is produced.
So, after a great day with Catherine, a collaboration was born and I’m going to be making a limited edition of tweed and woollen hats that will be sold through my website.
My problem at the moment is deciding which fabrics to use! The selection is immense and the colours are just so vibrant. One that is especially appealing to me is the Ramshead fabric designed by Timourous Beasties.
Timourous Beasties (http://www.timourousbeasties.com/)was founded in 1990 by design duo Paul Simmons and Alistair McAuley, who met while studying textile design at Glasgow School of Art (http://www.gsa.ac.uk/). They are noted for their surreal and provocative textiles and wallpapers. By depicting uncompromisingly contempory images on traditional textiles, they have defined an iconoclastic style of design once described as ‘William Morris on acid’. Check them out! The collection should be available next month.
Staying with the subject of weaving. I spent a lovely morning with Dan Coughlin at Paisley Museum (http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/) learning about the history of Paisley’s weavers (http://www.smashot.co.uk/). Dan is a weaver to trade and is also the head of Design & Textiles at the museum. I was lucky enough to be allowed to see the archives of the Paisley Pattern designs that go as far back as 1834. The designs have been so well preserved that they look as though they could have been drawn yesterday. Dan has such a fantastic knowledge on Paisley history considering he is Irish! He went to art school with Philip Treacy so that made me like him even more!
My home town of Paisley, in Scotland, used to be a hive of industry with silk mills, cotton mills and at one point there were over 7000 weavers here. We adopted the ‘Paisley Pattern’ from its home in India and to this day the little tear drop shaped pattern is still synonymous with my home town. The museum has a great shawl collection that is a recognised colection of national significance to Scotland, and well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
La La Land
With all my galavanting it’s a wonder I get time to make any hats but luckily I manage to fit it in somewhere! As I said before, with the cold weather coming earlier than expected it was time for me to get my adored vintage hat blocks out and start making felt hats. I love working with felt, to me it’s a milliners dream! So, I’ve come up with a collection of vintage inspired hats that are being sold in La La Land (http://www.livinginlalaland.co.uk/), an independent boutique located in Creswell Lane, in the heart of Glasgow’s West End.
The shop is owned and run by the fabulous and witty Sarah Graham, and it stocks clothing, accessories, art and cult fashion books. It is a delightful place with lots of little treasures to be found. It is good to support local independent businesses, and this one I highly recommend and not just because it stocks my hats!!!!!
Well, that’s all for now folks. I’m away to dream about hats!
Lots of love